Legally Blonde review by Bronwyn Cook
There are some roles that people are just born to play. Elle Woods in Legally Blonde is one of those roles that was meant for Samm Hagen.
I’ve been lucky enough to chart and follow Samm’s career, from her debut role as Waitress #1 and Sherrie cover in Rock of Ages, to Molly Jensen cover in Ghost The Musical, Pat in Kinky Boots and most recently one of the Divas in Priscilla: Queen of the Desert.
But to say that the pink sparkly high heels of Elle Woods, previously inhabited by Reece Witherspoon the movie version and Lucy Durack in the 2012-13 production, were destined for Hagen is an understatement.
She embodies everything that Elle stands for – love, truth, honesty, friendship, a big smile, beautiful blonde hair and most of all…heart.
This production of Legally Blonde is bought to Chapel off Chapel, by the James Terry Collective, which aims to offer ongoing part-time work opportunities for musical theatre creatives between contracts and to showcase the absolute abundance of local talent we have in Australia.
If you’ve not seen the stage production of Legally Blonde, it stays pretty true to the movie. Elle, the embodiment of a US sorority sister, heartbroken by her college love, initially enrolls in Harvard Law School (“what, like it’s hard) to win him back but instead finds herself, her place in the world and the right kind of love.
Joshua Firman (Once we Lived Here, Into the Woods) plays preppy Warner Huntington III, the man who breaks up with Elle because he needs “a Jackie, not a Marilyn”. Playing his “Jackie” is Lala Barlow (Side Show, Annie Get Your Gun), whose resting bitch face is a sight behold.
Evan Lever (Muriel’s Wedding the Musical, Rent) as Emmett Forrest, Elle’s first Harvard friend, then life coach then (spoiler alert) fiancee, brings the right level of scruffy charm to the role. The beauty salon owner, Paulette is given a charming twist by Willow Sizer (Where the Story Begins, Death of a Demi Diva).
As Elle’s sorority sisters, Sophie Stewart (In the Heights), Tayla Coad (debut) and Asmara Soekotjo (debut), this trio bring such joy, energy and talent to the stage it was hard to take your eyes off them! Especially the vapidly blank expressions Coad pulls in character, keep your eye out for them, they are a hoot.
Anyone, and I repeat anyone who can jump rope and lead a song at the same time also deserves a mention. Bravo to Crystal Hegedis (Bjorn Again, Chess, The Gruffalo) who plays accused husband killer Brooke Wyndam.
The ensemble is first class, with a delightful performance by Adam Perryman (Priscilla: Queen of the Desert for Norwegian Cruise Lines) as Kyle the UPS Guy.
Finally, It wouldn’t be a production of Legally Blonde without the dogs! Dachshunds Taco and Sir Duke share the role of Bruiser, and the lovable bulldog Rufus is Chopper.
But in the end, this show is 100% expertly anchored and lead by Hagen. I’ve been waiting for her first leading role and I’m so glad it’s in a show I know she has wanted to do for years. She tackles each song with grace, each dance move with expertise and shows the audience that this is the first in the long line of leading roles for Hagen.
Legally Blonde is my type of musical. It’s fun, easy to watch, enjoyable songs and you leave the theatre with a spring in your step from just the joy of a heartfelt show.
Although this production is staged with a fairly basic, but believable and functional set, it’s the impeccable casting, high energy choreography and spot on music direction that make it a must see of the summer theatre season.
Performance – 5
Costumes – 4
Sets – 4
Lighting – 4
Sound – 5
Direction – 5
Musical Direction – 5
Choreography – 5